Rugby league: Lift-off for Ovenden after superb fightback

Ovenden 30 Shaw Cross Sharks 18

OVENDEN climbed out of the Conference second division's bottom two with a superb fightback against mid-table Sharks.

The Four Fields side were 18-6 down at half time but turned it around impressively with the type of committed display coach Steve Taylor has been calling for.

With Matty Collins and Dean Robertshaw working, Jamie Wrigley a late withdrawal and Chris Geoghan playing on trial at Keighley Cougars, Ovenden were without the majority of their normal starting pack.

However, with Chris Sykes, veteran Mark Bailey and 16-year-old Brent Taylor stepping up to the mark they were hardly missed.

Taylor could have put Ovenden in front following a smart short pass from Brett Durkin but he lost the ball in the impact of the tackle as he went over.

Uncompromising defence was a feature of the opening 30 minutes with Sykes, Bailey and impressive captain Matt Turner putting in some brutal shots. It was not one way traffic with Sharks loose forward John Rourke typifying his side's spirit with some big hits of his own.

Indeed it was Rourke who opened the scoring, a strong burst taking him past a clutch of Ovenden defenders. Impressive scrum half Andy Tillitson added the goal.

It was not long before Shaw Cross struck again, a smart crossfield kick from Tillitson being caught by the right winger for a converted try.

Ovenden, although competing well, were suddenly 12-0 down after 35 minutes and the introduction of half back Liam Walsh provided the spark they needed.

Sykes' strong run paved the way for Walsh to provide the pass for big centre Luke Sandland to go over for a unconverted try.

However, the busy Rourke went over for his second try, converted by Tillitson, to leave Ovenden trailing 18-6 at half time and wondering what had gone wrong after defending so resolutely.

They produced more strong defence after the break with subs Ash Taylor and Matt Dawson, Turner and Durkin working overtime, prompted by impressive fullback Mick Holden.

This frustrated Shaw Cross and after a succession of penalties for high tackles, lively Ovenden hooker Luke Sutcliffe spotted a gap and darted through, rangy centre Tom McAdam finishing off and Sandland converting.

It was all Ovenden now with Walsh and his half back partner Gaz Jones causing Sharks all sorts of problems.

Speedy winger Will Midgley left the cover for dead from a Jones pass, Sandland's kick cutting the deficit to two points.

The next try was the game breaker. Sykes and Bailey took Ovenden deep into the Sharks half and replacement centre Shaun Smith made something out of nothing to outwit the Sharks defence for an unconverted try.

Ovenden were now on top in every department and Sharks' frustration boiled over when their right winger and centre were sent to the sin bin. As he was going, the winger said a bit too much to referee Mick Reid and his yellow was turned to red.

Ovenden kept their composure and Holden latched onto a Durkin pass for another unconverted Ovenden try. Durkin over celebrated and also found himself in the sin bin.

The home men had time for one more try, Taylor and Bailey combining to get the ball wide for Walsh to send the impressive Midgley squeezing in at the corner. Sandland added the goal.